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Posted: 2/18/2006 8:36:27 PM EDT
I was impressed by the Falklands thread. Smart navy types on here, let me pick your brains. What do you know about the topic?
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 10:28:45 PM EDT
Well, 'officially' the tactical thought was still focused on the big guns; battleships and heavy cruisers in a line of battle; lighter combatants for screeening. Aircraft carriers were in existence, but new enough nobody knew what to do with them - most navies saw them as being a scouting and harassment tool. Submarines were also seen as a screeening and interdiction tool rather htan a primary combatant.

BUT - there were plenty of rogues out there trying to change assumptions. A lot of Navy Aviation types pissed away all chance of promotion by trying to convince anyone who would listen that airpower would be decisive in naval warfare (the Japanese were paying attention). Billy Mitchell tried the same tactic from the Army side, only to alienate all ofthe general staff against him for ages. Some wild men were also trying to show that the submarine could make a RADICAL change in naval warfare, but again the Germans and the Japanese were the ones who paid the most attention to those lessons.

Early WW2 in the Atlantic was a series of commerce raids and sub actions - not much int eh way of 'line of battle' fights. The most famous of those would probably been the encounter with the Bismark that ended with the loss of the HMS Hood, but in the end the Bismark was sunk by airpower. In the Pacific, the entire paradigm was changed from day one with Pearl Harbor and the sinking of the British battleship near Malaya (I think it was). With no line of battle left, the US Navy was forced to listen to the airpower/submarine/light forces proponents, a lesson that Japan also soon learned, but too late to do anything about it.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 10:32:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/18/2006 10:34:03 PM EDT by raven]
Wasn't the Battle of Jutland the engagement that steered a lot of naval thinking before WWII? Convinced Hitler to develop subs instead of surface fleet power? Big columns of dreadnoughts duking it out? I read these books in kindergarten, but I really never was interested in pre-WWI naval stuff.I
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 10:36:29 PM EDT
It would seem that the idea of ships heavily armed, but lighter armored for speed (ie. the hood) was proven to be a bad one. The same idea was tried with tanks too - like the Loepard 1 and AMX-30 - but wasn't really put to the test.


-K
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 10:47:36 PM EDT
The question boils down to "when did naval aviation become the decisive arm?" Before that point naval combat would have been an extension of Jutland.

I think the earliest possible point at which naval aviation could become the decisive arm was the advent of big deck carriers that could launch a single deckload strike of 50-75 or so planes. that would have been around 1928 when the Lexington joined the fleet. Perhaps a few years after that to allow for the deployment of planes with the necessary range, payload, and speed. At least for daylight battles. Guns and torpedos were the decisive weapons at night through WWII. Also, the lousy weather in the North Atlantic allowed gun-armed ships to delay the dominance of aircraft a bit longer.

The days of the commerce raider where finished when aircraft with radios were deployed. A commerce raider depends on being undetected, and if the opponent can scan most of the ocean he can easily concentrate the forces needed to sink the raider once found.
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:12:39 PM EDT
My understanding of pre-World War I tactics is that the fleet was centered around the battleship. The whole idea was to force a decisive battleship on battleship engagement and all other ships were cast in a supporting role. Cruisers were used for scouting, primarily. Destroyers were used for scouting and making torpedo runs on an enemy battleline. Aircraft carriers, such as they were at the time, were used for scouting. The submarine hadn't found a role yet.

Around the time of the WWI, the cruiser was used as a commerce raider or bombardment ship in missions where you wouldn't want to deploy a slower battleship. Battlecruisers were developed to destroy cruisers, but ended up being taken up against enemy battleships and usually lost. Destroyers were used in the intended role but also took on an anti-submarine role when submarines started sinking battleships left and right.

I don't know what aircraft carriers did in WWI but I don't think it was very much. The submarine obviously made its presence felt. How did the WWI affect naval tactics afterwards? The Washington Treaty came out of the Jutland experience somehow. What were the roles for each ship type after the war and how would they be used..formations, etc?
Link Posted: 2/18/2006 11:40:14 PM EDT
Strategy was based around protecting the sealanes to your colonies for most. Germany who had no colonies, strategy was for raiders to mess primarily with Englands Sea lines of communication. Japanese Strategy was to take on and beat the US before the Brits could join in, with an included strategy of assuming the US would not be willing to fight for the Philippines, or to support the Brits or Dutch.

Tactics were in one of those major evolutionary changes, the airplane was evolving from a scouting platform to a weapon. Tactics were still very similar to the old days of the sail navies, line of battle ships slugging it out with line of battle ships. Only ths distances were greater. Remember the most common sensor at the beginning of the period and well into WW2 was the Mk1 Eyeball, firecontol systems were based on heavy analog "computer" systems for the really big guns, optical systems into analog for medium guns and a lot of small guns were strictly local control optical. Smokescreens, I've seen some old movies of what they could do with aircraft dropped chemical smoke screens almost like pulling a curtain across.

If you were in smaller than fleet actions the ships with the bigger guns tried to stay out of the range of the small gun ships but within their gun range. The smaller gunned ships tried to close the range before getting too badly hurt, or stayed out of gun range and tried to use radio to bring the big boys into. the Graf Spee battles in the South Atlantic were a classic combination of the smaller ships successfully closing the range, herding the big boy and using radio. Deception of a few kinds came into play also. But only because they had 3 ships and were able to split the Graf Spees attention between 3 targets. If there had only been one or two of the Brits the Graf Spee would likely have made mincemeat of them.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 8:51:50 AM EDT
Look up the Washington Naval Treaty. World Powers were limited in how many large ships they could possess or build. That made a hige difference in the way WWII was fought on the sea.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:46:30 PM EDT
The German position on subs was largely defined by WWI, when the submarine fleet came close to closing the Atlantic.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:49:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By AzSteven:
BUT - there were plenty of rogues out there trying to change assumptions. A lot of Navy Aviation types pissed away all chance of promotion by trying to convince anyone who would listen that airpower would be decisive in naval warfare (the Japanese were paying attention). Billy Mitchell tried the same tactic from the Army side, only to alienate all ofthe general staff against him for ages. Some wild men were also trying to show that the submarine could make a RADICAL change in naval warfare, but again the Germans and the Japanese were the ones who paid the most attention to those lessons.


This is the propoganda; however, there were plenty of officers who advocated carrier power without detriment to their careers. In fact, if you really want to do some interesting reading look up the exercises with carriers and the Panama canal. The fact carrier aviation was decisive in WWII was not a surprise to the Navy. They weren't inventing tactics on the fly, no matter what you read.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:50:58 PM EDT
Pre-war aircraft were recognized as a threat to ships, but the role was secondary. It was thought that aircraft could attrit the battle line, perhaps by sinking one or two battleships, or by scoring enough hits to reduce the speed of the victims and resulting in a tactical advantage. Losing two or three ships out of a total force of perhaps 10-15 was significant.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:52:01 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 2:55:57 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By AzSteven:
BUT - there were plenty of rogues out there trying to change assumptions. A lot of Navy Aviation types pissed away all chance of promotion by trying to convince anyone who would listen that airpower would be decisive in naval warfare (the Japanese were paying attention). Billy Mitchell tried the same tactic from the Army side, only to alienate all ofthe general staff against him for ages. Some wild men were also trying to show that the submarine could make a RADICAL change in naval warfare, but again the Germans and the Japanese were the ones who paid the most attention to those lessons.


This is the propoganda; however, there were plenty of officers who advocated carrier power without detriment to their careers. In fact, if you really want to do some interesting reading look up the exercises with carriers and the Panama canal. The fact carrier aviation was decisive in WWII was not a surprise to the Navy. They weren't inventing tactics on the fly, no matter what you read.



Correct, the USN was the leading innovator and exponent of 'Fleet Carrier' operations in the 1930's.

ANdy


The Japanese and the Brits weren't exactly sitting on their heels either. The Japanese did a lot with carrier formations and the British developed serious innovations when it came to building carriers.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 3:10:03 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 3:15:22 PM EDT
The submarine as utilized in WWII changed naval warfare forever. Submarines commenced war patrols out of Subic Bay on 8Dec41 and continued unabated until after the war was over. It was the only arm of our armed forces that was fully battle ready and commenced hostilities almost immediately, this tradition has continued to the present; when submarines go on patrol they go to war, period.

The submarine force nearly singlehandedly destroyed Japan's merchant fleet, without which it could not survive as an island empire.

Looking at the numbers of combatants ie. the submarine force comprised less than 10% of the Navy and the end result of the damage that small number caused , the result was more than worth the expenditures.

Causualties were high, 50 boats lost at around 75 men per crew divided by the small number comprising the force.

This was and is an elite force, all volunteer, only the best are accepted, then and now; as a result you have a very intelligent and highly motivated force structure bottom to top.

The Submarine is the ultimate stealth weapon, the enemy never knows where they are or where they can be. This is also why carriers are used to project power, you know a carrier is there and I guarentee that a carrier battlegroup commander knows where his submarines are.

That is all, for now.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 3:25:12 PM EDT
US Navy Submarine 'tactics' were something the other side of horrible during the period you question. Think of the way the Germans used their U Boats through most of WW II and our tactics ere almost the exact opposite. The Germans understood the submarine of that era was primarily a surface vessel that could submerge and launched most of their attacks with the boat surfaced or flooded only hull down. However, the US made virtually all attacks fully submerged. Our tacticsa changed later in the war.

Submarine torpedos were equipped with a magnetic detonator and that detonator DID NOT FUNCTION CORRECTLY. Subs brought back pics of the torpedos striking the hull of enemy ships and bouncing off without exploding and still Bureau of Weapons would not believe. (I may well be corrected here but I believe that torpedo exploder had only been tested once and failed that test.) Finally we went back to a contact exploder that worked.

With better tactics, weapons and training the USN Submarine Fleet, which comprised less than 4% of the USN, put well over half the Japanese Fleet to the bottom of the Pacific.



5sub
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 3:47:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
The submarine as utilized in WWII changed naval warfare forever. Submarines commenced war patrols out of Subic Bay on 8Dec41 and continued unabated until after the war was over. It was the only arm of our armed forces that was fully battle ready and commenced hostilities almost immediately, this tradition has continued to the present; when submarines go on patrol they go to war, period.

The submarine force nearly singlehandedly destroyed Japan's merchant fleet, without which it could not survive as an island empire.

Looking at the numbers of combatants ie. the submarine force comprised less than 10% of the Navy and the end result of the damage that small number caused , the result was more than worth the expenditures.



There are two kids of ships: Submarines and Targets.

'Nuff said.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:06:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By vito113:
Originally Posted By dport:
Originally Posted By AzSteven:

Correct, the USN was the leading innovator and exponent of 'Fleet Carrier' operations in the 1930's.

ANdy


The Japanese and the Brits weren't exactly sitting on their heels either. The Japanese did a lot with carrier formations and the British developed serious innovations when it came to building carriers.



True, but it was the USN that first grasped the concept that the carrier in and of itself would be decisive, and started developing tactics for their employment as such in Carrier Task Forces from the early 30's. Sortie rate was grasped as being the essential attribute of carrier operations along with carriers large enough to support enough planes to launch decisive strikes.

The experience gained during the loan of HMS Victorious to the USN in the SW Pacific in 1943 was a huge eye opener to the Royal Navy in the use of carrier air power. The lessons learned resulted in a huge doctrinal change in both operations and the design of all following RN carriers.

ANdy


All three countries made strides thanks to the Washington Navy Treaty. You had to do something with those hulls that were being built.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:35:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 5subslr5:
US Navy Submarine 'tactics' were something the other side of horrible during the period you question. Think of the way the Germans used their U Boats through most of WW II and our tactics ere almost the exact opposite. The Germans understood the submarine of that era was primarily a surface vessel that could submerge and launched most of their attacks with the boat surfaced or flooded only hull down. However, the US made virtually all attacks fully submerged. Our tacticsa changed later in the war.

Submarine torpedos were equipped with a magnetic detonator and that detonator DID NOT FUNCTION CORRECTLY. Subs brought back pics of the torpedos striking the hull of enemy ships and bouncing off without exploding and still Bureau of Weapons would not believe. (I may well be corrected here but I believe that torpedo exploder had only been tested once and failed that test.) Finally we went back to a contact exploder that worked.

With better tactics, weapons and training the USN Submarine Fleet, which comprised less than 4% of the USN, put well over half the Japanese Fleet to the bottom of the Pacific.



5sub



Well, the German's from 1942 out made virtually no surface attacks as radar made them easy pickings for a B-24's, Sutherland's, or PBY's. The Germans even came up with radar absorbing materials for subs and took the snorkel design from the Dutch. Staying on the surface was a sure fire ticket to the bottom, 40,000 German U-Boat sailors are on eternal patrol.

The German's had the exact same problem with their torpedoes as the US. Both sides had problems with deep running, magnetic exploders, and with the contact exploder. Both sides Torpedo problems were the result of inadequate testing of their designs to iron out the problems. The German's problems IIRC were from rushing the torpedo into service.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:39:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/19/2006 11:02:45 PM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:41:12 PM EDT
We could go on all day...for days. Why not try to bound your question?

Is there a specific area you're interested in?
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:48:34 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:
We could go on all day...for days. Why not try to bound your question?

Is there a specific area you're interested in?



Just the general evolution of tactics from 1919 to 1939. What was done, when. What were the perceived roles of the different ship classes before the shooting started? That is about as bounded as I can make it since I don't really know what I'm asking about.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:50:52 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:53:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Big_Louie:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
We could go on all day...for days. Why not try to bound your question?

Is there a specific area you're interested in?



Just the general evolution of tactics from 1919 to 1939. What was done, when. What were the perceived roles of the different ship classes before the shooting started? That is about as bounded as I can make it since I don't really know what I'm asking about.



Carriers were the big deal in 1919-1939. They completely changed Naval Warfare.

ANdy



About what year did they figure that out, though?
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 4:58:18 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/19/2006 5:01:49 PM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 6:05:18 PM EDT
Heck, I'd say tactics didn't change much during this period, the aircraft and submarine were regarded as scouts, not frontline fighting units. Pearl Harbor changed alot of thinking in this regard as did the Battle of Coral Sea.

All the peacetime tactics practised during the between the war period were soon thrown out in WWII, after it became apparent they werwe ineffective.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 6:06:31 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
Heck, I'd say tactics didn't change much during this period, the aircraft and submarine were regarded as scouts, not frontline fighting units. Pearl Harbor changed alot of thinking in this regard as did the Battle of Coral Sea.

All the peacetime tactics practised during the between the war period were soon thrown out in WWII, after it became apparent they werwe ineffective.


That's just not the case, despite the hype.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 6:11:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
Heck, I'd say tactics didn't change much during this period, the aircraft and submarine were regarded as scouts, not frontline fighting units. Pearl Harbor changed alot of thinking in this regard as did the Battle of Coral Sea.

All the peacetime tactics practised during the between the war period were soon thrown out in WWII, after it became apparent they werwe ineffective.


That's just not the case, despite the hype.


Naval commanders felt Pearl Harbor was a disaster because the battleships were lost, they were still seen as the key to naval power when the war began.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 7:13:07 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/19/2006 7:24:01 PM EDT by mcgredo]
I think everyone realized naval air was important in the 30's. The question was whether it was a decisive weapon or not. Many in the US Navy did think it was decsive, and developed some tactics based on that premise. Others didn't, and thought the big gun ships were still the decisive weapon. Experience in war showed the first group right, at least during daylight hours.

The first big deck carriers, Lexington and Saratoga, were originally designed as battlecruisers. They weren't a very good design as battlecruisers, and luckily the naval treaties of the time allowed them to be converted into aircraft carriers. The powerful engines and large deck size made a quantum leap in naval air capability. The big deck and speed let the carriers launch a full strike at once, without having to use the elevator to bring up more planes from the hanger deck. That increased the range and striking power of the squadrons. It's one thing to defend against 20 fighters and bombers, another to defend against 70, or more if multiple carriers launched a single strike. This created the potential to move the carrier from a scouting and harrassing role (ie, a replacement for cruisers) to having a strike role in their own right. The fact that the Lex and Sara had big decks was something of a happy accident resulting from the unfinished battlecruisers. If they had decided to make a carrier from scratch they probably wouldn't have had such a big deck.

This was, remember, during daylight hours. It was common at the time to detach a group of cruisers or BBs to try to catch the opposing carriers in a night gun and torpedo battle. The range of aircraft and the speed of ships made it practical to try to close the distance during darkness. The same technique was used at Guadalcanal, where the Japanese ships would start at extreme aircraft range in the early evening, steam in at high speed and shell the airstrip, and then try to steam out of range before daylight and recon could find them. Notice that at Guadalcanal the night naval fighting was mostly with guns and torpedos for this reason--it was night, and the strike planes were grounded. This tactic worked for the Japanese because they knew where the airstrip was. The surface strike force finding carriers at night never quite worked out.

During night time probably the most effective sort of ship to have would be a cruiser, either light with 5" or 6" guns a lot of torpedos, or heavy with torpedos and 8" guns. The BBs were nice, but too vulnerable to torpedos given their value, and at the start of the war not able to exploit the long reach of their guns while using optical gun laying at night. This later changed with radar, but during the Guadalcanal campaign by the time each side detected the other they were usually within range of any 5", 6", 8", or 16" guns, and, problematically for the Americans, within range of the Japanese torpedos. This is what happened during one night battle, when a column of US cruisers and destroyers smashed into a Japanese force of cruisers and BBs at near point-blank range. One of the Japanese BBs wound up crippled and was later sunk.

The Germans used night surface attacks with their U-Boats at the start of the war to great effect. This stopped being effective once radar was widely deployed on escorts. Late in the war the Germans developed a revolutionary new submarine, the Type-XXI, that had enough submerged speed to conduct attacks while underwater. It was the basis for most postwar conventional subs.

Link Posted: 2/19/2006 8:24:10 PM EDT

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
Heck, I'd say tactics didn't change much during this period, the aircraft and submarine were regarded as scouts, not frontline fighting units. Pearl Harbor changed alot of thinking in this regard as did the Battle of Coral Sea.

All the peacetime tactics practised during the between the war period were soon thrown out in WWII, after it became apparent they werwe ineffective.


That's just not the case, despite the hype.


Naval commanders felt Pearl Harbor was a disaster because the battleships were lost, they were still seen as the key to naval power when the war began.


You clearly do not know what you're talking about. Watching too many people on the history channel I'd say. People who recite this mantra also like to state there were not surface engagements in the Pacific.

The tactics used in WWII carrier battles, read carefully, were developed before the war. The Genda Box the Japanese used? By definition was developed before the war. The US conducted many fleet exercises that showed the offensive capability of the aircraft carrier. Sortie rates, which Andy alluded to earlier, were developed pre-WWII.

The idea of the carrier as a scout was born of WWI and into the 20s. However, as aircraft grew more capable, carrier tactics grew more complex. If you think about it from a practical view point, the Washington Treaty limited the number of battleships. If you wanted to expand your fleet's firepower, you had to look for alternatives. One alternative was carriers.

I'm not saying we went into WWII with the notion the carrier would totally supplant the battleship. However, the tactics of carrier strikes, how to scout, how to generate sorties, how to manage the flight deck, how to lead strikes to their targets, formations, etc, you know the important things surrounding carrier tactics were already developed. All the Navy really did was utilize only the carrier portion of the doctrine developed during fleet exercises.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 8:28:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
The first big deck carriers, Lexington and Saratoga, were originally designed as battlecruisers. They weren't a very good design as battlecruisers, and luckily the naval treaties of the time allowed them to be converted into aircraft carriers. The powerful engines and large deck size made a quantum leap in naval air capability. The big deck and speed let the carriers launch a full strike at once, without having to use the elevator to bring up more planes from the hanger deck. That increased the range and striking power of the squadrons. It's one thing to defend against 20 fighters and bombers, another to defend against 70, or more if multiple carriers launched a single strike. This created the potential to move the carrier from a scouting and harrassing role (ie, a replacement for cruisers) to having a strike role in their own right. The fact that the Lex and Sara had big decks was something of a happy accident resulting from the unfinished battlecruisers. If they had decided to make a carrier from scratch they probably wouldn't have had such a big deck.

This was, remember, during daylight hours. It was common at the time to detach a group of cruisers or BBs to try to catch the opposing carriers in a night gun and torpedo battle. The range of aircraft and the speed of ships made it practical to try to close the distance during darkness. The same technique was used at Guadalcanal, where the Japanese ships would start at extreme aircraft range in the early evening, steam in at high speed and shell the airstrip, and then try to steam out of range before daylight and recon could find them. Notice that at Guadalcanal the night naval fighting was mostly with guns and torpedos for this reason--it was night, and the strike planes were grounded. This tactic worked for the Japanese because they knew where the airstrip was. The surface strike force finding carriers at night never quite worked out.




Excellent points. If you look to Midway what did the American forces do following the battle? They retreated anticipating that the Japanese had BBs closer than they really did. Their tactics at Midway were directly influenced by pre-war FLEETEXs.

One thing that made the night pursuit impractical was the ever increasing range of carrier capable aircraft.

I would also dispute your contention about the effectiveness of BBs at night. If the US would have effectively used their radars, mostly a C2 problem, I think they would have been very decisive. The failure of the US to field a Type 99 torpedo equivalent was also a problem.
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 10:39:29 PM EDT
The BBs were useful, no doubt about it. But in the night battle of Guadalcanal Washington and South Dakota were dodging torpedos despite the advantage of their radars, which is not a good situation for a BB to be in. Two or three cruisers (with torpedos and radar) in the place of each BB would probably have been a better force mix. The BBs were there only because the rest of the US surface force had been shot to pieces or sunk, but the risk/reward ratio would make most blanch at using them on a routine basis in the combat off Guadalcanal. A couple long lances into the side of a BB would be bad news.

By the time of Surigao Strait the radars had improved quite a lot, and the US BBs were engaging at 23,000-26,000 yards in the night action using radar. But the Japanese ships had also been cut to pieces by US destroyer torpedo attacks, so again from a cost-benefit analysis it was hard to justify the BBs, at least as counters to the Japanese forces. Against an enemy with better radar it might be another matter. (And the absolute maximum range of the long lance was around 40,000 yards, so the US ships were at least nominaly at risk of torpedo attack.)
Link Posted: 2/19/2006 11:03:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/19/2006 11:33:11 PM EDT by PanzerOfDoom]

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
Heck, I'd say tactics didn't change much during this period, the aircraft and submarine were regarded as scouts, not frontline fighting units. Pearl Harbor changed alot of thinking in this regard as did the Battle of Coral Sea.

All the peacetime tactics practised during the between the war period were soon thrown out in WWII, after it became apparent they werwe ineffective.


That's just not the case, despite the hype.


Naval commanders felt Pearl Harbor was a disaster because the battleships were lost, they were still seen as the key to naval power when the war began.


You clearly do not know what you're talking about. Watching too many people on the history channel I'd say. People who recite this mantra also like to state there were not surface engagements in the Pacific.

The tactics used in WWII carrier battles, read carefully, were developed before the war. The Genda Box the Japanese used? By definition was developed before the war. The US conducted many fleet exercises that showed the offensive capability of the aircraft carrier. Sortie rates, which Andy alluded to earlier, were developed pre-WWII.

The idea of the carrier as a scout was born of WWI and into the 20s. However, as aircraft grew more capable, carrier tactics grew more complex. If you think about it from a practical view point, the Washington Treaty limited the number of battleships. If you wanted to expand your fleet's firepower, you had to look for alternatives. One alternative was carriers.

I'm not saying we went into WWII with the notion the carrier would totally supplant the battleship. However, the tactics of carrier strikes, how to scout, how to generate sorties, how to manage the flight deck, how to lead strikes to their targets, formations, etc, you know the important things surrounding carrier tactics were already developed. All the Navy really did was utilize only the carrier portion of the doctrine developed during fleet exercises.


Don't assume Sir that if someone disagrees with your opinion they don't know what they are talking about. I have read countless volumes on the subject, many of which are in my library, and am fully able to draw my own conclusions based on what I have read.

Leaders in the Navy are represenitive of the "power branch" that is in vogue at the time, this is still the case, there were no submariners or aviators at the top at the onset. Ignoring the shortcommings of our military during the period between the wars is assinine.

Peacetime attitudes about naval warfare prevaled at the onset of the war. Do you seriously think prior to the war that our naval commanders envisioned a serious naval battle without heavyships being involved? It took a year to weed out all the peacetime attitudes/tactics that were obviouly ineffective. The command structure in the Navy at the time was still the heavyship bunch. Carriers and submarines were novelties, reality is that that was esentially all that was left as an effective fighting force after the loss at Pearl Harbor.

In effect it was not the machines that were the issue it was the leadership or lack of. It was the typical peacetime cycle of the US military, drawdown to a hollow force. We were ill prepared for war, names like Wake, Battan, The Asiatic Fleet were the ones who paid for our lack of preperation; furthermore I believe they were sacrificed while we learned how to fight a modern Naval war in the Pacific. Until Midway nothing of consequence happened, we were attacking meaningless outposts that did little to help the war effort except teach aviators how to bomb and shoot under combat conditions.

It took a good bit of time to "figure it out", hell we had radar at the first Battle of Savo Island and got pounded. The subsequent battles around Savo were also poorly fought, until we started to figure out how to employ radar effectively. The Solomons fighting was capped with Arleigh Burke's "perfect battle" of Cape St. George. By this time the men who could fight were identified and were in place. All the lessons learned were put into action and it was turned around.

To venture that it was superior tactics and training utilized during peacetime that won WWII does not hold water, we were kicked around the Pacific until 1943. Where was all that superior tactical employment until then? Ultimately, we won by sheer firepower.

Link Posted: 2/19/2006 11:31:36 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 12:03:10 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By vito113:
Originally Posted By dport:
Originally Posted By vito113:
Originally Posted By dport:
Originally Posted By AzSteven:

The experience gained during the loan of HMS Victorious to the USN in the SW Pacific in 1943 was a huge eye opener to the Royal Navy in the use of carrier air power. The lessons learned resulted in a huge doctrinal change in both operations and the design of all following RN carriers.

ANdy


All three countries made strides thanks to the Washington Navy Treaty. You had to do something with those hulls that were being built.



Although there were great strides in carrier design by the British, due to a disasterous decision made by the .Gov in 1918, the Royal Navy did not contribute anything to tactical or doctrinal development in the inter-war years.

A bit of history....

During WWI, the British had two air arms, the Royal Flying Corp of the Army, and the Royal Naval Air Service belonging to the Navy. Many of the best designs of British aircraft during WWI were by the RNAS. Types such as the Sopwith Triplane fighter were an RNAS type. Tactically, the RNAS were far ahead of the RFC who regarded the primary use of sircraft as scouts and bombers. During WWI the RNAS was carrying out air strikes gainst land targets from it's seaplane carriers and had plans in hand to use it's carriers to attack the German Fleet at anchor in 1919.

Unfortunately, the .Gov decided to merge the RFC and the RNAS into a new unitary air force in 1918, the Royal Air Force. The RAF was wedded to the idea that the bomber was the key to air power, whereas te RNAS saw that bombers would always need escorting by fighters, and as the Army was the majority of the new RAF, their doctrine was adopted.

The merging of the RNAS with the RFC meant that right up intil 1937 when the Fleet Air Arm was re-established, pilots and planes for the Royal Navy's carriers were supplied by the RAF! The RAF invariably supplied the worst of it's pilots to 'those Navy types' and it spent as little as possible on designing some of the worst naval aircraft off all time for them to fly.

The reason the RN had the obsolecsent Swordfish biplane fighter as it's primary carrier bomber/torpedo plane in 1939 stems from this, it was not a 1920's design... it was actually a 1930's design! And as the RAF had decided the RN would not fight anyone with carrier's it did not bother to design proper fighters for the Navy's carriers either.

So, the Royal Navy entered WWII flyng utterly obsolete aircraft and with pilots, most of which had been the bottom of their class... not a good way to start a war!

When the USN asked for the loan of a Royal Navy carrier in 1942 after the loss of the Yorktown at Midway, this necessitated a re-equipping of HMS Victorious with USN aircraft and stores and training the British crew in USN carrier operations, it was a revelation and eagerly embraced by the RN. The upshot of this was that to this day, RN carrier operations are modelled on USN practice, and given the choice, the RN always wants USN aircraft types, and to this day, the RN's 'working rig' is the same design as the USN used in 1943.

ANdy



They did ok in the Atlantic, though. They got the Bismarck in '41?, and beat up on the Italians on many occasions. What year was the raid on Taranto or whatever the port was called? 1941? Not too much opposition though, and the Invincible didn't fair too well against the Stukas nor did the others against the U-Boats.

Then after the previous two years of experience in the Atlantic, including their own raid on Taranto, they go sending the Repulse and the PoW into the teeth of Japanese land based air.

The Americans were quick to discard the battleships. They weren't even brought along to Midway. I know they had used the Lexington and Saratoga in wargames as early as the early 1930s, but did anyone realize how decisive airplanes would be back in the 1920s and early 1930s? They were still fitting aircraft carries with 5 in guns for surface actions then. How much of this was planned out and how much was picked up on the fly?

Exactly what kind of timeline did the evolution from pre-WWI tactics to WWII tactics follow?
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 1:01:23 AM EDT
Everyone realized that carriers could be decisive.

However, even counting the RNs success at Taranto, it was also clear that carrier aircraft could not conduct attacks at night. Anchored battleships was one thing, moving ones quite another. They were also not all-weather capable and would not be for some twenty years after World War II ended.

Everyone knew that the battleship was at its pinnicle of design but carriers were still in their infancy.

The new "fast battleships" with the speed of the old battlecrusers and better armor, especally in the vertical plain, were quite capable of staying beyond carrier striking range during daylight, and yet closing to gunnery range WITHIN A SINGLE NIGHT. They could cover 300 miles in a single period of darkness, depending on time of year and latitude, and if they got a little help from fog and rain...

Now if a carrier fleet caught battleships out at sea in clear weather and broad daylight, it could get ugly. But not too ugly, the Japanese Main Force at Leyte Gulf survived a full days air attack with the loss of only the Musashi...
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 1:50:39 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/20/2006 6:20:00 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 5:09:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
The BBs were useful, no doubt about it. But in the night battle of Guadalcanal Washington and South Dakota were dodging torpedos despite the advantage of their radars, which is not a good situation for a BB to be in.


That was more coordination issue than a technical one. Often in the slot you'd have multiple US ships engaging the same target. Torpedoes were a problem, thanks to the excellent Long Lance, but that would have been minimized had the Navy figured out proper target distribution.

Two or three cruisers (with torpedos and radar) in the place of each BB would probably have been a better force mix.

I don't believe we had any cruisers with torpedo capability. That was a serious flaw, IMO.

The BBs were there only because the rest of the US surface force had been shot to pieces or sunk, but the risk/reward ratio would make most blanch at using them on a routine basis in the combat off Guadalcanal. A couple long lances into the side of a BB would be bad news.

No argument.

By the time of Surigao Strait the radars had improved quite a lot, and the US BBs were engaging at 23,000-26,000 yards in the night action using radar. But the Japanese ships had also been cut to pieces by US destroyer torpedo attacks, so again from a cost-benefit analysis it was hard to justify the BBs, at least as counters to the Japanese forces. Against an enemy with better radar it might be another matter. (And the absolute maximum range of the long lance was around 40,000 yards, so the US ships were at least nominaly at risk of torpedo attack.)
No real argument here either. Except to say that if the USN had figured out proper target distribution, I think the BBs would have been much more effective.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 5:46:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:
Don't assume Sir that if someone disagrees with your opinion they don't know what they are talking about. I have read countless volumes on the subject, many of which are in my library, and am fully able to draw my own conclusions based on what I have read.


The problem is your opinions just don't correlate to historical fact.


Leaders in the Navy are represenitive of the "power branch" that is in vogue at the time, this is still the case, there were no submariners or aviators at the top at the onset. Ignoring the shortcommings of our military during the period between the wars is assinine.


As is ignoring the successes. By Fleet Problem X, in 1930, the USN was waging carrier on carrier wargames, utilizing cruisers and destroyers only as escorts. Sound familiar? FPX also was a testing ground for scouting operations. In 1938, FP XIX has USS SARATOGA conducting an attack on Pearl Harbor. Sound familiar? In fact, the Sara attacked Hickam Field as well. The same tactic used by the Japanese. Because of these Fleet Problems we had figured out the scouting problem and developed some excellent aircraft, like the Dauntless, and were in the process of developing more capable carrier aircraft when the Japanese attacked. Specifically, thanks to FPXV which identified the need for carrier aircraft to carry larger and more capable bombs.


Peacetime attitudes about naval warfare prevaled at the onset of the war.


Yes it did, and it took 20 years of annual Fleet Problems to develop those attitudes that were used successfully.


Do you seriously think prior to the war that our naval commanders envisioned a serious naval battle without heavyships being involved?


Yep. In 1930. Fleet Problem X.


It took a year to weed out all the peacetime attitudes/tactics that were obviouly ineffective.


In your extensive reading you should have read that the first carrier on carrier battle was in May of 1942, just over five months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Battle of Midway, which saw 3 US carriers defeat a main force of 4 Japanese carriers, was just over 6 months from Pearl Harbor. Hardly the year you claim.


The command structure in the Navy at the time was still the heavyship bunch. Carriers and submarines were novelties, reality is that that was esentially all that was left as an effective fighting force after the loss at Pearl Harbor.


Good thing the Navy was practicing using those forces for 20 years prior to Pearl Harbor. Good thing, in the Atlantic, that the Navy developed methods for using aircraft for ASW during those same Fleet Problems.


In effect it was not the machines that were the issue it was the leadership or lack of. It was the typical peacetime cycle of the US military, drawdown to a hollow force. We were ill prepared for war, names like Wake, Battan, The Asiatic Fleet were the ones who paid for our lack of preperation; furthermore I believe they were sacrificed while we learned how to fight a modern Naval war in the Pacific. Until Midway nothing of consequence happened, we were attacking meaningless outposts that did little to help the war effort except teach aviators how to bomb and shoot under combat conditions.


Your belief does not square with the facts. The Navy didn't care to fight force on force because we were late in building up our forces. The first keel for an ESSEX-class carrier, the mainstay of the war, was laid in April 1941. Well before our entry into the war, but too late to have an effect early in the war. The entire US war industry got off to a late start.


It took a good bit of time to "figure it out", hell we had radar at the first Battle of Savo Island and got pounded. The subsequent battles around Savo were also poorly fought, until we started to figure out how to employ radar effectively. The Solomons fighting was capped with Arleigh Burke's "perfect battle" of Cape St. George. By this time the men who could fight were identified and were in place. All the lessons learned were put into action and it was turned around.


Interestingly carrier tactics were perfected first. Why was that? Maybe because the 20 years of Fleet Problems, which had a heavy focus on using the carrier? Or maybe it was the US Surface Force was too busy learning how to fight themselves, and weren't fully up to speed on torpedo tactics. Or maybe it was radar had only recently been put on ships and the methods for using it hadn't been fully developed. There wasn't 20 years of practice, unlike carrier tactics. The truth lies in all three. And the fact the USN underestimated the Type 99 torpedo.


To venture that it was superior tactics and training utilized during peacetime that won WWII does not hold water, we were kicked around the Pacific until 1943. Where was all that superior tactical employment until then? Ultimately, we won by sheer firepower.



It is your contention that lacks water containment capabilities. The US was not "kicked around the Pacific until 1943." Coral Sea, May 1942, while not a tactical victory, did blunt the Japanese attack south. The Japanese were decisively beaten at Midway, June 1942, by an inferior force, no sheer firepower there. The US mounted its first offensive operation in August 1942, at Guadalcanal.

I'd get back to your "extensive library" and read some more. Or try "aircraft carrier evolution" on Google and look at what history.navy.mil has to offer on carrier evolution.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 6:34:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/20/2006 6:37:07 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 7:24:12 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:
Snip

ANdy


I gave you an open shot at the US of A and you didn't take it. Come on! You're slipping.

The entire US war industry got off to a late start.

There has to be a joke about America's view of timeliness there somewhere.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 7:27:46 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
The question boils down to "when did naval aviation become the decisive arm?"



Immediately after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 7:32:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wolf_Warrior:

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
The question boils down to "when did naval aviation become the decisive arm?"



Immediately after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.


So you'd totally dismiss naval aviation when it: sank the Bismark, attacked the Italian fleet in Taranto, the sinking of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, oh and totally ignoring its effect at Pearl Harbor?
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 7:35:30 AM EDT

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:

Leaders in the Navy are represenitive of the "power branch" that is in vogue at the time, this is still the case, there were no submariners or aviators at the top at the onset.

The command structure in the Navy at the time was still the heavyship bunch. Carriers and submarines were novelties, reality is that that was esentially all that was left as an effective fighting force after the loss at Pearl Harbor.




Excellent. Dead on. I deleted a few lines only for clarity sake. The only thing I would add/correct is the "power branch" was the "battleship culture." Pearl ended the debate and allowed Naval Aviation to rise to the top of the heap -- where it remains today.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 7:36:32 AM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:

Originally Posted By Wolf_Warrior:

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
The question boils down to "when did naval aviation become the decisive arm?"



Immediately after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.


So you'd totally dismiss naval aviation when it: sank the Bismark, attacked the Italian fleet in Taranto, the sinking of the Repulse and the Prince of Wales, oh and totally ignoring its effect at Pearl Harbor?



Not at all. I believe he was asking about the U.S.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 8:01:48 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wolf_Warrior:

Originally Posted By PanzerOfDoom:

Leaders in the Navy are represenitive of the "power branch" that is in vogue at the time, this is still the case, there were no submariners or aviators at the top at the onset.

The command structure in the Navy at the time was still the heavyship bunch. Carriers and submarines were novelties, reality is that that was esentially all that was left as an effective fighting force after the loss at Pearl Harbor.




Excellent. Dead on. I deleted a few lines only for clarity sake. The only thing I would add/correct is the "power branch" was the "battleship culture." Pearl ended the debate and allowed Naval Aviation to rise to the top of the heap -- where it remains today.


That's friggen hilarious. The last two Chiefs of Naval Operations have been Surface Warfare Officers, not aviator/carrier types.

Again, your assertions don't bear out with facts. Of the admirals, Halsey, Nimitz, Spruance and Fletcher, how many had carrier experience prior to the war?
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 8:28:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:
I would also support your assertion that the US was not "kicked around the Pacific until 1943". Despite being comprehensively outnumbered, and fighting an enemy deploying demonsterably superior aircraft, the USN used superior tactics and training to hold it's own against far superior forces and ultimately defeat them at Midway.
ANdy



Yes--the USN was badly outnumbered, but managed to cause losses on about a 1:1 ratio (exclusive of Midway, where they cleaned up) until 1943. That's a remarkable achievment; in simulations and wargames a player that has 50% less combat power is usually crushed with only light losses by the attacker. After early 1943 the Essex class started coming online, better planes arrived, and it was all over for the Japanese.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 8:43:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:

Originally Posted By vito113:
I would also support your assertion that the US was not "kicked around the Pacific until 1943". Despite being comprehensively outnumbered, and fighting an enemy deploying demonsterably superior aircraft, the USN used superior tactics and training to hold it's own against far superior forces and ultimately defeat them at Midway.
ANdy



Yes--the USN was badly outnumbered, but managed to cause losses on about a 1:1 ratio (exclusive of Midway, where they cleaned up) until 1943. That's a remarkable achievment; in simulations and wargames a player that has 50% less combat power is usually crushed with only light losses by the attacker. After early 1943 the Essex class started coming online, better planes arrived, and it was all over for the Japanese.


Some additional thoughts on the evolution of carrier air power.

The ESSEX's keel was laid in April '41. The INDEPENDENCE's keel was laid in May '41. Both pre-War. Both classes of ships were our mainstay throughout the war. In fact, in September of 1940 we had 7 large carriers one escort carrier, and one large carrier on order (the ESSEX). We ordered 8 more large, ESSEX-class, carriers. We aslo ordered INDEPENDENCE-class carriers. Hardly the actions of a Navy that viewed carriers as scouts.

Likewise the aircraft that carried us through the was were originally developed pre-War. We started with the WildCat(1937), the Dauntless(1940), the Devastator (1937), which did the bulk of the work at Midway. They were replaced by the HellCat(June 1941), the Corsair(May 1940), HellDiver(1940) and the Avenger (1940). Again all pre-War developments born of the Fleet Problems of the previous 20 years.

What I find very interesting is the striking power of a carrier air wing actually diminished during the war. In other words the anti-ship striking power decreased.
Early in the war:
36 fighters
36 dive bombers
18 torpedo bombers

Later in the war:
73 fighters
15 dive bombers
15 torpedo bombers

Our tactics certainly changed, as you can see with the above air wing compositions. We also went from a more loose carrier formations, when we had fewer carriers to tighter formations, when we had more carriers., reminiscent of early war Japanese carrier formations when they had the advantage in numbers. Neither concept was new. They were both developed pre-War.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 8:51:39 AM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:
I don't believe we had any cruisers with torpedo capability. That was a serious flaw, IMO.



Some of the light cruisers did, but there were none on the heavy cruisers. An Atlanta class
light cruiser was probably the most valuable surface warfare ship on the US side during
the Guadalcanal campaign, with 16 5" guns plus torpedoes.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 9:07:54 AM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:

Originally Posted By dport:
I don't believe we had any cruisers with torpedo capability. That was a serious flaw, IMO.



Some of the light cruisers did, but there were none on the heavy cruisers. An Atlanta class
light cruiser was probably the most valuable surface warfare ship on the US side during
the Guadalcanal campaign, with 16 5" guns plus torpedoes.


Thanks. I had forgotten about the CLs. Too bad they didn't have a decent torpedo in 1942.
Link Posted: 2/20/2006 11:42:22 AM EDT
If I was to venture a guess, the force mix on the CVAs toward more fighters and fewer strike aircraft was a reflection of the changind of the threat (or prey). The Japanese were running out of targets (ships), but still had the aircraft available from land bases, and later more kamikaze threat and even less ship threat. As the CVA + CVL availablility went up you could muster more than enough attack aircraft from several carriers to handle the anti-surface mission while the fighter count increased. In other words the torpedo and dive bomber available numbers went up in total but the number of fighters went up much faster.

Also the CVE's tended to carry more strike aircraft which were used in support of ground operations also.

The US, Brits and Japanese all planned on having BB slugging matches, in addition to the CV battles. The Germans didn't, obvioulsy no big BBS in multiples. The French and Italians went both ways, but neither had big fleets, hence no big fleet action intents.

Pearl Harbor delayed any possibility of traditional all gun and torpedo major fleet actions until the US got it's BBs refloated, repaired and the new ones in line (pardon the pun). And then there were a few, but to have fleet actions both sides have to have a fleet per se. For most of the war at most locations, only one side had the preponderance of capital ships, hence the far more rapid emergence of the carrier striking arm than expected.

The axiom no Operational Plan survives first contact with the enemy is true here also.

The Japanese should have won Midway. Spread their forces all to hell and gone, way too complicated assumptions on the US reactions, etc etc. First goal was to bring the US Fleet out and crush it. Concentrate all the forces and sail straight toward Midway or Hawaii. Force the smaller US force out to confront the mega fleet. Why maintain radio silence, you want the US to know where you are and where you are going. Remember you want them to come and get you, so you can crush them. Or you want them to run away and then you smash Oahu.
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